Josef Fritzl, Evil or Insane?

Elisabeth Fritzl

Possibly no account has ever struck me with such horror as has that of Elizabeth Fritzl. The consideration of her plight is on a keel with thoughts of those unfortunate ones who suffered at the hands of Hitler and his henchmen during World War II, and who by the millions were tortured and killed.

In recent days has come to light her story, revealing that for 24 years her father kept her as a sex captive in a dungeon beneath his apartment house. When this beautiful young lady was 11 years old her father began raping her. More than once, she ran away, but he always managed to recapture her. At one point, it was even the police who returned her to her home. In the early days, he chained her as a dog, and forced her to dig with her own hands her torture chamber. It was an underground cave, with reinforced double doors and an electronic lock to which only Josef knew the code.

During these ghastly years, he continued to rape her and she gave birth to his 7 children…alone…in a dungeon. He presented three of the children to his wife, saying that Elizabeth had joined a cult, and had left the children on their doorstep.

Elizabeth reared the remaining three children (one died as an infant), cooing to them, rocking them, and teaching them rudimentary speech and reading skills. They never once saw the light of day. Those three humans spent their entire lives underground. Frequently, though, their father/grandfather ravaged the place, ordering them into back rooms, while repeatedly raping their mother. It is reported that after this deed was discovered the children, although they could speak, often communicated with each other in guttural, soft growls. It’s a ghastly story that I’m sure you’ve read about, and whose details are readily available. Pictures have been posted.

My question today is: Who is this man? Who is 73 year-old Josef Fritzl? His history presents him as an ordinary man, yet is that at all possible?

After mandatory schooling, Fritzl studied electric engineering at a polytechnic school and got his first job with steel company Voest. From 1969 to 1971 he worked for a construction material company in Amstetten, where he gained a reputation as an intelligent worker and a good technician. Then he went into the service industry and took over an inn 15 years ago.

Last week when the story unfolded and these dear people were rescued from this unfathomable torture, Fritzl admitted everything. Now, though, he has become silent, and there is word out that he will plead insanity.

Is there evil of such degree that a sane human could commit such atrocities? Or must we consider such a man hopelessly insane?

The jury who heard the case of Jeffrey Dahmer who injected acid into the brains of his victims, had sex with dead bodies, and even ate their flesh, considered him sane. For his evil deeds, they sentenced him to 7 life sentences.

I wrestle with the subject, for I cannot comprehend that anyone in his right mind could commit such deeds, yet when I consider the remainder of the life of Josef Fritzl, he gave every indication of sanity. He transacted business, took vacations, and cared for his wife and other children. No, he is not insane. He is profoundly evil…yet how can that be? Whence arises in a man such dastardly action?


My devotional blog is here.

46 thoughts on “Josef Fritzl, Evil or Insane?

  1. Unfortunately Joseph Fritzl is not a completely uncommon man. Although few would believe it. His behavior was acceptable to him. He ruled his small world, and had his reasons and that was enough for him. Sadly most of us can not get our minds around the volgarity, even though it exsists for women and children every day. Those poligimists rule as such. So did my dad. So did his. And good people knew but did not want to know……


  2. dean

    A short rope and a small stool. Save the taxpayers a lot of time and money. And regardless of what the bleeding hearted liberal community says…. this man is the embodiment of evil!!!


  3. michael

    send him over to us in texas…. he’d get death for sure. but considering the “code” in our prisons, he would get murdered by the other inmates before he ever saw the electric chair. the lowest rung on the prison latter is the child molester.


  4. Kaydia

    This man needs to be put to death! Plain and simple. No mercy is to be shown to him the same way that he did not show mercy to his daughter.

    Some of the commenters want to justify him staying alive as a way of showing God’s love to him. But God is a God of justice and I believe crimes like what Mr Fritzl commited are worthy of death- righteousness and justice demands it!


  5. yorkiedad

    This evil man needs to suffer. He needs to live in dread every day of his life. He needs to suffer the agony of a slow, painful death. He needs to be put in a prison with violent inmates, who will take great pleasure in slowly and painfully killing this monster. Too bad Austria does not have the death penalty. I’d volunteer to throw the switch and fry this trash with several million volts.


  6. Warren

    from jawa report:

    “Incest Dungeon Master Josef Fritzl Explains Himself

    Following up on a previous report, incest dungeon master Josef Fritzl, 73, has broken his silence in discussions with his lawyer.

    Unbelievably, Fritzl rationalizes every aspect of his crimes and lays blame on a lifelong incestuous lust for his mother.

    “I knew that Elisabeth did not want the things I did to her. I knew that I was hurting her,” Mr Fritzl said in notes given by his lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, to an Austrian magazine.
    “But the urge to finally be able to taste the forbidden fruit was too strong. It was like an addiction.” [ … ]

    “In reality I wanted to have children with her. I was looking forward to the offspring. It was a beautiful idea for me — to have a proper family, also down in the cellar, with a good wife and a couple of children.

    “I always wanted to have many children. Not children that would have to, like I had, grow up alone but children that would always have someone to play with. I had a dream about a large family ever since I was a little boy.”

    So, there you go. He was motivated by strong family values. Fritzl desired many children who wouldn’t grow up alone like he did. But that’s not all. Fritzl also claims he imprisoned his daughter to rescue her from bad people.
    “Ever since she entered puberty she did not adhere to rules anymore. She would spend whole nights in dingy bars, drinking alcohol and smoking. I only tried to pull her out of that misery,” he said.
    “I got her a job as a waitress but she would not go to work for days. She even escaped twice and hung out with bad people during this time and they were not good company for her. I would bring her back home each time but she would try to escape again.

    “That is why I had to do something. I had to create a place where I could keep Elisabeth, by force if necessary, away from the outside world.”

    As time went by with Elisabeth locked up, his urge to have sex with her became stronger and stronger.
    “It was a vicious circle, a circle from which there was no exit — not only for Elisabeth but also for myself.”
    Well, that should clear things up for everyone. Fritzl believes that he was caught in a vicious circle from which there was no escape but to imprison his daughter for 24 years and impregnate her at least seven times.
    I heard that the maximum penalty Fritzl faces under Austrian law is 15 years in prison. It’s not enough punishment.” end quote.


  7. fiona

    Just a little factoid, echoing back to the now-defunct question of Fritzl’s alleged judaism: Turns out (some sources) that his father wore a Nazi uniform–turncoat or collaborator?

    Interesting, Fiona. Thanks for the update.


  8. Chandra

    I Believe Josef F. Feed His Energy Into Evil Lust Of Wanting Elizabeth. The Only Thing That Would Hold Him Into This Secret Evil Plan Would Be A Demon Possessing Him. {There Are So Many Bible Verses Of Man Being Possessed By Demons & Jesus Healing Them}
    I Believe You Would Have To Have Some Kind Of Insanity For A Demon To Take Over You And Commit Such A Thing And Stay Committed To It. In The Right Mind None Of Us Would Allow This, Believing In GOD Or Not.

    I Don’t Care. I Love GOD. But GOD Would Be The Only One I Know Of Who Could Forgive Him. Not Me. I’m Sure There Might Be Some Kind Of “Feelings” From His Family Only.
    No Matter What Religion Or Not Anyone Is In. GOD Said Everyone In This World Will Have A Chance To Acknowledge The WORD Of GOD And To Follow His Path Before Their Time Is Up. If Ever It Was Presented To Josef Before Elizabeth And Her Children Where Released, Josef Is Going To Have A Lot To Be Accounted For. I Don’t Even Believe If He Found GOD In Prison And Cleanest His Heart Now Should He Be Allowed Through The Gates Of Heaven. That Would Be The Real Punishment.
    Other Than Believing His Remainder Time Now Should Be Spent As The Same Torture As Elizabeth’s Without Being Disclosed To The Media.
    I Completely Know The Wrongness Of Me Not Finding Any Mercy For Josef And Not Having Forgiveness. I Think GOD Would Understand That In All Our Hearts.

    My Heart Breaks For Elizabeth And Her Children. I Pray For Them EVERYDAY. Their New Happiness, That She May Feel The Rain On Her Face =D As She Wished For. To Be Able To Live A Normal Life As Much As Possible With All Kinds Of Love And Joy With Her Family. To Be Able To Learn The Great Wonders Of This World.
    I Look For New Updated News On Their Conditions In Life. I Am Eager To Find Out How They Are Doing!? But Nothing Is Being Disclosed Anymore {Or At Least Threw Goggle}

    Peace & 1 Love.
    ~Chandra {Boston, MA.}

    Chandra, you sound like a sweet and loving person. I believe we all share much the same sentiments.

    God bless you.


  9. fiona

    I’m sorry. I allowed myself to trickle off in pursuit of a question that has been intriguing me a little. Joe is far from the only internet voice who is adamant that this horrendous evil must have been, could only have been perpetrated by a Jew, yet no news source has published it as fact. It’s a level of antisemitism I haven’t run into before (maybe because I’m not jewish), and I was curious about it, which is why I asked. But you’re right, it isn’t the topic of this Comment section. Sorry.

    Aw, Fiona, there’s no need to apologize. Comments often take a different turn, and I always enjoy reading them. I actually was speaking up for you, I believe, in your defense of Jews.

    I hate racism of any kind…including antisemitism.

    Hope you’re back around my site often.



  10. Obiageli

    he should be made to suffer the same plight ELIZABETH went through probably locked up in a cellar too. devilish and heartless man, may God have mercy on his wicked soul.

    Yes, my Christian soul insists that I ask for mercy from God for him. On this earth, he needs to suffer the rest of his life. He is indeed heartless and evil.


  11. fiona

    Well–that’s not entirely true. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

    “If the colinear edges of a regular six-pointed star are connected, so that two interlaced triangles are formed, a symbol results that is variously known as the hexagram, Star of David, or Shield of David (Magen David). This symbol is most commonly associated with Judaism; it is also used in Christianity, but on a less frequent basis.” You can readily find several other contexts in which the six-pointed star is used, as well.

    The reason I question your assertion is that with so many people (like you) WANTING it to be true SO BADLY, and well over a month passing, it seems unlikely that it would be true and still not corroborated.

    (btw, the picture in which you claim to see the Stars of David is not his home, but the dungeon.)

    Now may I ask you a question? Why is it so important that Josef Fritzl turn out to be a Jew? I’ll look forward to your reply.

    I understand this particular discussion is between you and Joe, but I feel I must jump in here and say: While there is nothing wrong with determining Fitzl’s religious leanings, it is of little importance. It doesn’t matter whether he is an atheist, Jewish, Pentecostal or Baptist. He is a vile man, and there is no religion (except that of the devil) that would encourage or smile at such behavior. It’s ridiculous if anyone is suggesting that.


  12. joe

    all there is to go on is the star of davids he has in his home, from the pics. no news sites that ive seen specifically mention his religion..but not many non-jewish folks have stars of david in thier homes.

    just putting 2 and 2 together.


  13. fiona

    Joe–Do you have proof that Fritzl is jewish? I ask because I see this claim occasionally in blogs and comments, but I have never seen it in any article anywhere. Can you provide a cite or url, please?


  14. joe

    “And the CHURCH did horrible things during the history !!!”

    so did hitler and stalin – both were athiests. so whats your point, that people can be evil ? (deleted by blog owner) religion or not doesnt change that.


  15. Katrina

    Hey “religious ” guys,

    The humans/humanity existed before the Bible !!!!! And the CHURCH did horrible things during the history !!!! Religion/church is just a way to control/manipulate people ! Nothing more !!!!


  16. Liz, my goodness, I am in no way justifying this man’s evil deeds. It’s abysmal–whether caused from insanity or plain evil. I in no way excuse him, and don’t see anywhere I implied that.


  17. liz

    How stupid can you be? You’re wrestling with the question of whether or not he is insane? The Bible teaches that man is evil???? You’re justifying his crimes using the Bible!!!This makes me so mad. The world has suffered so much because of the Bible. You people are so stupid you make me sick. Sure, the devil made him do it. Let him go free…God forgives him. STUPID.


  18. Catharina Edward

    I just wish that Josef Fritzl will repent for the evils that he have committed and pray that Elisabeth and her children will be healed from their agony through spiritual healing sessions.


  19. brum

    my heart aches for this poor family i just hope in time elisabeth and her children can start to get happiness into there lives something poor kerstin,stefan and little felix never experienced there whole entire lives may god bless them all


  20. Yes, I feel sadness, too. Thank you to everyone who has been here and who has responded to this pitiful situation.

    I believe we as a group have sympathy for Elizabeth and for her children. We wish her health and healing.

    God bless us. God help us all. To those in Austria, I especially pray for you and your great sorrow and shame over this matter.



  21. j_Q

    i dont know must say about anyone, but i can fell sad. peace love elisabeth, word love elisabeth, peoples loves elisabeth, and God love elisabeth………. we together elisabeth….


  22. E. Ettinger

    A voice from Austria: We are all shocked here and many people would love to see this criminal death. Some more facts:

    Fritzl, a very violant and dominating guy, had already brutally raped before, 1967 was locked in for 18 months, when Elisabeth was a little baby. He had later on a licensed house and camping place at “Mondsee” in Austria, where he already started to dug a deep cellar, but then started to build the cellar in Amstetten (“Horror-House”) and started to rape Elisabeth in the age of 11.

    His wife, mother of all together also 7 children, our question: how much did she know and realize about child misuse? She till yet was not questioned about. However, didn’t help her daughter. She said, she didn’t know anything about what was going on in the cellar. The whole family was completely frightend and terrorized from Fritzl, although in public seemed always to be kind and a wonderful husband and demanding father. The kids with his wife left the house as soon as possible. (Question: was only Elisabeth raped? No answer.)

    Elisabeth was already captured in the cellar, as Fritzl was still running the licensed house at Mondsee, going in vacation to Thailand or was seen by sado-maso-prostitutes. Leaving his victims somethings for weeks alone in the cellar (food was in stock). At that time a till yet unsolved sex killing happend on a disappeared 17-year old girl looking like Elisabeth at Mondsee – but every trace is cold. The licensed house burnt down, it was said Fritzl tried insurance fraud. (Or did he just got rid of traces?) All together mysterious and to long ago to be in police records in Austria. That is why the police and the public authorities didn’t recognize this earlier – after 10-15 years minor crimes are deleted out of the records and cannot be mentioned at court. (This law was now altered a few days ago.)

    To get to the cellar (it was strictly forbidden by Fritzl for ANYONE to enter the cellar or several own rooms in the house!) you had to pass 5 locked rooms and behind a stelling was a hidden small locked door not to be seen, behind that had been two secret 600 pounds-doors of high performanced concrete with automatic opener on two differend numeric codes. The prisoners had been told, that the door have hidden electronic environment to cause an deadly electric stroke by manipulating and, if something happens to Fritzl, the air would be poissend with toxic gas.

    The double faces guy said, Elisabeth is looking like his mother, which was always beating him (his father died earlier), but this could also be just a lie one out of so many. Fact is, he is a great manipulator, a very intelligent but emotionless icy cold criminal who always wanted to dominate and controll women and all family members completely. In his opinion, he just wanted to “protect” Elisabeth from running away and it was “very kind of him”, to get Kerstin to a hospital – instead of let them all die and drow the keys away (his words), because the police could never had cover it up themself or would never had found the cellar. “I’m not a monster”, he said.

    The police is looking for a chance accusing him to murder because he let one sick born baby in the cellar just die. (He burnt the dead body then in an ofen.) Only the very begging of Elisabeth and her promise, not to talk about made him let Kerstin (19 years old) to be put into hospital (brain damages from incest, acute renal failure and so on). She is now still in coma. 3 of Elisabeth kids had be living upstairs, the girl, two boys 18 and 5 had been kept in the cellar with only electric light, a shower, a toilet, a cooking place, beds and a television. The dungeon was already long time planed before Fritzl locked Elisabeth in for raping and building a second family. Fritzl knew very well, that he was hurting Elisabeth and it was against her will.

    The first kid he manipulated “to be found” had a cardiac defect, had to be hospitalized and then he took also the following two kids “because they were crying to loud” and the dungeon was overcrowed. Kerstin should have been also “found” in front of the house, but the doctors at the hospital called the police because of her genetic cell and brain damages (incest proofs).


  23. Michael

    Let me point out another unthinkable action, Judas betrayed our Lord Jesus to be put to death. I know this was the plan all along for our salvation , so looking at this lets me understand that man’s mind can be taken wherever we allow our darkest corners to open up too.


  24. Yes, the Bible definitely teaches that man at his base is of an evil nature. Not only does the Bible state this, but mere observation of human beings reveal a definite bent toward evil.

    Yet, this question of innate evil puzzles me, for since we agree that we are all born in sin–all born leaning toward evil–how is it that some, such as Josef Fritzl, can commit such horrific deeds, while most of us would not. Are we not all born in sin?

    Certainly the question of salvation arises here, and clearly I understand that once a person is born again–of the water and of the spirit–that person’s old nature has been cut off, and, ingrafted now, is a holy and righteous spirit. Yet, most of the world (to my limited knowledge) is not born again, but most of the world would never consider such a deed as we are discussing.

    What happens? Is it within all of us to behave in such a heinous way? I rather think not. Why?


  25. Jana, I don’t think his family will ever find “normal” either. This man’s sin go way beyond vile. And I don’t think he’ll find for forgiveness. But thank God he can. Thank God we don’t have to decide.


  26. Helen – I should stand corrected for surely God can forgive even this vile man. This man’s sin certainly disgust me and I would be surprised if he did find forgiveness. Usually, when they have become this evil, they justify their crime and don’t feel guilty. Without guilt and admission of wrong, he would not find forgiveness. Thanks for the correction.


  27. How much evil in the heart of man left to his own devices? Not playing ostrich, but I do not care to know more details.
    I believe it always was to a degree, just no one knew all. The Dark Ages were pretty ghastly.
    This man was controlled by demonic spirits, at will, so yes he was sane, when himself.
    It brought back some stories in my childhood that had made me feel sick. My stomach is unsettled right now. I hope the survivors can regain some degree of dignity, if that’s possible.
    As for the despicable man, God be his judge.


  28. I agree with Jay. When I said, the man is evil, I had no idea people would think possessed. He’s a very, very, very sinful man. But he thought this all up without the pitch-fork guy. And he doesn’t have to burn in hell. He can be forgiven by the same God who forgave me of my sins. And we’d better call him a man. Jesus died to save ones such as this.


  29. Farrell Forrest Jr.

    I refuse to call him a man. He may be of the male population but certainly not a man.

    I aggree that a rope and a stool is to quick. Bring back the old fashioned stocks in the town square and give the victims a whip then use the rope and stool.
    Sorry Shirley
    Love Jr.


  30. I don’t believe this man was possessed. Mat 15:19 says “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” He gave him self over to the evil desires of his heart.

    When we see the depravity of man it is easier for us to say that man could not do this, It must have been an evil spirit. While I do believe they can possess a person, we shouldn’t underestimate the evil of man. At the heart we are evil, not good.


  31. Evil. Death, life? Regardless, he will burn in hell for eternity. I don’t think the survivors will ever find “normal.” My head hurts and stomach churns at such vile news.


  32. I agree with Jayleigh. Probably because I am a mother I just cannot bear to look to far into this story…… part of me wants to because I just can’t comprehend it but the other part wants to run as far away from it as I can. In these situations I am guilty of playing the ostrich.


  33. I saw that story, skimmed through it a week ago, and cannot bring myself to learning all of the details. I am sickened and horrified.

    I pray that God will comfort those involved and that His justice prevails on all of the evil in this world.


  34. AP

    Helen is right how much more can one family stand. That is why they should have the peace of mind to know he is gone forever from their lives. Whether by death or life sentence I guess is up to a jury, but if we are voting, I vote life sentence in with the general population of the roughest prison. Unfortunatly he probably wouldn’t last very long.


  35. Esther

    I believe he is sane. But, is possessed by demons. He allows them to control his actions. When he seems rational is when the demons are not controlling him. This may seem very old-fashion to some but I truly believe this to be true.


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